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Why Isn't Trump Doing a Truman and Firing the"SOBs"?

Updated on March 18, 2017
General Douglas MacArthur
General Douglas MacArthur

Perpetuating the atmosphere of Amateur Hour which is making politics fun again, it is interesting to speculate on what the Trump administration's reaction will be to the latest underling to talk out of school, the NSA's Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, practically calling the boss a liar to his face.

Ledgett called the White House's allegations that the Brits helped spy on Trump, which the Brits denied, "arrant nonsense."

Whether this is true or not is largely irrelevant as it sets up an interesting scenario. The NSA is an Executive Branch department. Like him or not, Trump is perfectly within his rights to "fire the SOB."

This expression was made famous by President Harry Truman when General Douglas MacArthur started veering from the company line, and in general becoming a pain in Truman's rear.

On December 6, 1950, Truman issued a directive requiring all military officers and diplomatic officials to clear with the State Department all but routine statements before making them public. MacArthur was fond of giving his own views on how the budding Korean War should be run, which were not the president's. When asked what he was going to do after MacArthur blabbed one time too many, Truman responded bluntly "I'm going to fire the son of a bitch."

Truman later elaborated, saying "I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail."

Thus Truman re-established, for another half century, the principle of civilian control over the military. The NSA is part of the military, run by a general, for the collection of foreign intelligence.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, goes even further, saying Trump should "clean out" the intelligence agencies. Roberts writes:

"He can clean out the intelligence agencies and terminate their license granted by Bush and Obama to conduct unconstitutional activities. He can use anti-trust to breakup the media conglomerates that Clinton allowed to form."

Ledgett presents an interesting opportunity for Trump to establish a principle which has gotten too far out of balance for many years, since the CIA defied President John F. Kennedy by launching the Bay of Pigs invasion against Cuba.

The interesting thing about politics in the era of Trump is, as distasteful as the man is with his open bigotry against Muslims, he is almost accidentally dismantling key components of the Deep State, which is long overdue no matter where on the political spectrum you stand.

Roberts says:

"At this point Trump has no alternative but to fight. He can take down the secret police agencies and the presstitute media conglomerates, or they will take him down...No president can survive secret police agencies determined to destroy him. If Trump’s advisers don’t know this, Trump desperately needs new advisers."

If Trump is supposed to be another Hitler, he certainly is a tolerant one so far for insubordination.

Truman obviously knew who was boss. One of the peculiar aspects of the Trump White House as Trump rants on Twitter in the middle of the night and feels his way forward is he sometimes seems to forget he is president.


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